A number of recent media items have discussed radiation overdoses from medical testing. This MSNBC/AP item is typical.
Briefly quoting the item:
“Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries. The U.S. accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades.”
Excessive radiation from medical procedures has a proven record of causing cancer, among other diseases. So why do doctors give so many MRI’s, take so many X-Rays, and otherwise overdiagnose their patients. In a word, lawyers.
While malpractice insurance in itself only consumes about five percent of your health care dollar, “mandatory testing and record keeping” consume two thirds of that dollar. So only about one dollar in four that you lay out for health care actually goes to make you well again.
Overdiagnosis is a tort, literally a wrongdoing, just as it is when a doctor deliberately misdiagnoses a patient. And the doctor should pay for deliberate misdiagnosis. But it should not take thirty MRI’s to diagnose a bellyache. That is as much a tort as deliberate misdiagnosis. And the fault should lie at the door of the lawyers who demand far more record keeping, for a far longer period of time than necessary, in order to assist them in their quest for huge malpractice awards.
A demand for records means the doctors must generate records to keep. Including MRI and X-Ray records. Failure to order up another test for those who have had far too many tests already can cost a doctor plenty. So the health care minefield the lawyers have created is likely to blow up in the patients faces.
The solution is “tort reform.” Require doctors to document what they did and how they did it – but eliminate the time and money wasting “mandatory tests” and the record keeping that goes with those tests.
After all, it only takes another thirty minutes to determine whether vertigo is caused by a tumor or by an allergy. And administering Anti-Vert and waiting a half hour for results can save $3,000. And another dose of radiation.